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mental illness week

Getting Through the Day: Anxiety and Stress

Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States? Individuals with anxiety can experience a persistent feeling of worry, dread, increased heart rate and rapid breathing: this can lead to a feeling of tiredness and irritability. It can make getting through the day difficult and feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of life.

How I Cope: Lists!

There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning and realizing the laundry list of things that you must get done that day. The thought of all those tasks can sometimes be so overwhelming that you feel like you don’t know where to start, and it can be paralyzing. As someone who faces this obstacle most mornings, I have had to learn different ways to be able to break through that mental block and be able to accomplish my activities of daily life. When I have an overwhelming list of things to do, the most important thing I do is to list out everything I have to do. After doing this, I go through to see what things absolutely must be completed today, what things I just want to get done today, and things I just want to get done that don’t have a fixed date to be done by.

Now that I have smaller lists, I can focus on what exactly needs to be done first. Pick one task and only worry about that. Don’t think about the rest of the tasks. If you have time sensitive tasks, set a timer for how long you want to work on that. This can make things easier to handle and feel less overwhelmed and more in control with the day ahead.

Yes, but some stuff doesn’t get on a list

It is important to remember to ground yourself throughout the day. Identify things throughout the day that make you happy, and if you need a “pick me up” try reading some positive affirmations to yourself to help bring out the happiness. Breathe and focus on your body when you are overwhelmed and feeling anxious: it’s a good way to ground yourself. Just by focusing on your breaths and taking slower and deeper breaths can help to slow your heart rate which can help you handle what is going on instead of feeling panicking with rapid breathing and rapid heart rate. You will be able to make clearer and more thought through decisions if your body is under less stress.

It’s Not Just You!

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are people around you that understand and care about your well-being and having support is something that can help your day-to- day life easier to manage. It is not weak to ask for or accept help from friends, family, coworkers, counselors, doctors, or anyone else in your life. You are loved and you matter. 

And it’s OK if you need more support, too. The team at Spectrum Health can work with you on other techniques to help you manage.

Kristina Moore, RN

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